Winter cycling is made much easier with high-quality clothing that provides excellent insulation and comfort, and the LL.habuTights_s7 from Swiss masters of cycle clothing Assos are a case in point. With a thermal fabric and double layer over the knees they'll keep your legs toasty warm meaning you're fresh out of excuses to cancel a ride because it's too cold.
Pros: Superb fit, comfort, insulation, reflective details
Cons: High price, the bulge!
The LL.habuTights_s7 are aimed primarily at winter cycling and I've found they offer just the right amount of warmth for typical British conditions, which at the time of writing has included a sustained period of sub-zero temperature that has certainly made riding the bike more testing than usual.
Providing enough warmth to combat such temperature lows, the company's own RX Medium fabric is used on the front of the legs, with a double layer over the knee for good measure. The fabric has a waffle brushed inner, it's soft on the skin and provides noticeable warmth when setting out into the cold.
It really does deliver impressive insulation, noticeably more than regular Lycra tights. That skin-biting chill simply doesn't get through at all. There's no overheating on warmer days, however, or if you head to the hills for sustained high-intensity efforts, with enough breathability to prevent any overheating at all.
This fabric has been given a DWR (durable water repellency) coating to ensure the tights can stand up to a bit of rain and puddle splashes, and on both fronts, they cope just fine. They won't be keeping you dry in a heavy downpour, but they held back the rain longer than regular tights.
To enhance the fit and reduce any potential for restricted pedalling motion, there's an RX Light insert on the back of the knees. The high stretch of both fabrics, combined with the clever panel shaping, means no restriction of movement around the knees or legs at all. Some winter tights resort to thick fabrics that keep out the cold but restrict freedom of movement and so feel horrible to pedal in. That's not the case with these tights – they're very comfortable indeed.
To provide extra protection for your lower torso Assos has used its Stratagon Ultra material. It's a windproof and waterproof fabric and is intended to keep the core area sheltered from bad weather. The waist is low and stretchy enough for easy mid-ride wee stops.
The bib straps are wide, flat and very stretchy, and fulfil their primary task of holding the tights up without exerting undue pressure across the top of the shoulders. The fit of the tights is so good they would probably stay up anyway, the straps just stop them slipping down around the waist.
At the other end of the tights are elasticated openings with silicone grippers on the inside. There's enough stretch that you can easily pull them over thick Merino socks. The ankle area is more comfortable than if it had a zip, and without it there's one less thing to go wrong; no bad thing on such pricey tights.
The straps come together at the back with a narrow mesh panel covered in graphics. There are small rubber hoops at the top of the straps that can be used to hook glasses on, and also serve as somewhere to tether headphone cables.
Intriguingly, there's a large pocket on one side of the tights. It's large enough to carry a music player or smartphone but could be used for anything – money in a waterproof wallet, perhaps, or some food. With jacket pockets carrying all my essentials for winter rides I found this pocket a little unnecessary, but if you are running out of pockets you might find it useful.
There are generously sized and angled reflective stripes across the back of each calf muscle and only stitched to the tights across the top so as not to hamper the fit or comfort in any way. Reflective details are an obviously good thing on tights for a time of year when sunlight is in short supply.
Now to the meat of the shorts, the padded insert. This is where Assos's expertise really comes to the fore; it produces probably the most advanced and most comfortable padded inserts currently available.
The one that lives in these tights is called the équipe_S7 and shares its design with other S7 pads road.cc has tested over the years. The distinctive purple dimpled memory foam has a waffle and perforated composition and is only attached to the tights at the front and back, leaving the mid-section free to 'float', a technology that Assos calls goldenGate. Yup, they've got a name for everything.
As silly as it perhaps sounds, it does result in superb comfort. The padded insert is luxuriously comfortable, feels great against the skin and cushions your undercarriage for the longest of rides. There's no feeling of undue bulk and higher intensity or warmer than expected rides don't ever result in a soggy nappy feeling; the foam stays completely dry. The semi-floating design isn't a game-changer but does result in a fit that feels marginally freer than padded inserts that are completely stitched to the tights, so it's not entirely marketing mumbo jumbo.
The only oddness I found with these tights is the extended front section of the padded insert, intended to provide more comfort when you're on the rivet. It produces quite the bulge, it's like you're wearing a cup. That's ideal if you're out to impress, but erm, it can make you feel a little self-conscious, which is the last thing you need when stepping out in cycle clothing is enough to do that in itself.
You can get these tights without the padded insert so you can wear them over another pair of padded shorts, but I've never personally been a fan of non-padded tights.
The high price means they won't be for everyone, and that's fine. But the price and that bulge are the only things I can criticise in these tights. In every respect, they are near perfect, with supreme fit, comfort, a luxuriously padded chamois and brilliant insulation for the typical cold winter UK rides.
Superb comfort and winter insulation, but at a high price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Assos LL.habuTights_s7
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Bib tights like no other, the LL.habuTights_s7 deliver insulation, protection and comfort when the weather turns.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
RX Medium: A medium thermal fabric that is breathable and highly adept at wicking moisture away from your body. DWR: A hydrophobic, DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment that repels water, forcing it to bead and run off. Double layer of RX Medium on knee: A second layer of RX Medium fabric for increased thermal protection where it's needed most. blasenSchutz: A panel of our highly breathable, wind-and waterproof Stratagon Ultra material, engineered to increase comfort and warmth. Loop-free ankle: A no-grip elastic seam to keep the tights firmly in place whilst riding. S7 generation: the latest generation of ASSOS cycling shorts, employing technology and fabrics engineered over a 5-year period. équipe_S7 insert: A chamois pad offering a deft balance of performance and comfort with 8mm of memory foam. The ASSOS goldenGate technology: A patented technology which augments the performance of the insert by allowing the most fluent movement with the body. The ASSOS waffle: A unique three-layer foam used in our inserts with perforations that make it light and highly breathable. Y7 frame carrier bibTech: A bib redesign that involving using a wider cut of elastic for less pressure on your shoulders, resulting in less friction and more comfort. Lower Leg design: Our 'bowling pin' design moulds to the lower leg and reduces friction to accelerate comfort. RX Light insert: This lightweight, breathable fabric has been inserted behind the knee for freedom of movement. Reflective strips: Two reflective strips positioned optimally on the lower rear of the tights, for increased visibility in low-light conditions. Rear pocket: A small rear essentials pocket on the back of the bibs allowing you to ride with just a skinFoil baselayer and a rain shell. bibStabilizer: A stabilizing, horizontal insert to ensure the bib straps lie flat and don't bunch. Also serves as a holder for Zegho sunglasses.
Assos has really perfected every aspect of these winter tights
Excellent performance for long winter rides in challenging weather
No problems on that front so far, and previous experience of Assos clothing reassures me that they'll be going for many years
Yes, they're expensive, but given the highly impressive performance, I wouldn't say they're bad value for money. Of course, you can get a near similar level of performance for a lot less, but there are no corners cut with these Assos shorts, and the padded insert is one of the best in the business
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Regular wash cycles are just fine
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For tackling cold rides, they are amazing
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and comfort, and warm enough to keep my chilly bones warm on a cold ride
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Hard to ignore the high price tag. Oh and the bulge
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Probably as good as winter tights get with superb fit, comfort and warmth
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.